Friday, March 31, 2017

Which Novelists Make You Smarter?

I'll start by naming two novelists whose books left me with the sense that I was a lot smarter when I finished than when I started.

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace has stunning insights into people. No other work has made me pause to marvel over what was revealed about human nature.

The other novelist is Saul Bellow. There isn't a particular novel that I have in mind - I could not get into his Henderson the Rain King - but Mr. Sammler's Planet, Humboldt's Gift, Ravelstein, and Herzog certainly hit home.

What about Bellow's most famous book? I'm late to the party on that one but am currently reading The Adventures of Augie March. [Bellow reportedly was asked "What's it about?" and he replied, "It's about 200 pages too long."] 

But I am enjoying it.

Which novelists would be on your Made Me Smarter list?


Steve Layman said...

Michael Shaara, Killer Angels
Leon Uris, Trinity
Richard Adams, Watership Down

Added the criteria that I actually had to read the book, as opposed to plod through it over an extended time. That criteria left out Dickens, who must surely otherwise make the cut. S

Michael Wade said...


I've read The Killer Angels but not Trinity or WAtership Down.

I should have listed Dickens because I've gotten a great deal out of his books.

Shakespeare, of course, practically goes without saying.